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Is BPD always Caused By Trauma?

Updated: Feb 2, 2022

People with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) mostly report a history of abuse, parental separation, neglect, or other childhood trauma. But some individuals don't have any traumatic history, but they do suffer from BPD. It can cause some confusion within the individual since they wonder what the root is of their disorder. Although the exact causes of BPD development are uncertain, research has shown that genetics and brain development have a role.

Some people with BPD feel as if that nothing happened that caused the development of their disorder. It could be the case that nothing ever happened, but it could also be, for example, that the individual never realized that the relationship with their parents was unhealthy. For this reason, I highly recommend seeing a mental health professional or attending therapy.

After therapy, most people with BPD can identify what events or trauma developed their disorder. When one cannot figure out what the underlying trauma is, then it may be that genetic factors and brain activity are the only causes for the disorder.

BPD genetics

It is known that Borderline personality disorder(BPD) runs in families, which means there must be a genetic explanation. If one of your parents has BPD, there is a good chance that you will develop it yourself. Aside from the fact that the child mimics their parents' behavior and therefore may acquire BPD, genetics may also play a role.

Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers that play a vital role in communication within the human body. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter that modulates various psychological processes, has different roles in the functioning of a person, such as stabilizing mood regulation. People with BPD have low serotonin levels, which can lead to feelings of sadness, anger, and depression. In some people, the serotonin level is naturally lower because it is genetically determined. Long-term stress can also affect serotonin levels.

Medications are often prescribed to increase serotonin levels for someone suffering from this disorder.

BPD brain development

The amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex are three areas of the brain that are either smaller than normal or have unusual levels of activity in people with BPD.

The amygdala

The amygdala plays an important role in regulating emotions, especially negative emotions, such as fear, aggression, and anxiety. The amygdala shows more activity in several disorders that involve intense emotions, including mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and BPD. Because the amygdala has higher activity in someone with BPD, the individual experiences negative emotions more often.

The hippocampus

The hippocampus helps regulate behavior and self-control. Hippocampus activity is lower in those with BPD, which might explain why they have trouble managing their emotions.

The prefrontal cortex

The prefrontal cortex helps control impulsiveness, and according to studies, people with BPD show low levels of activity and structural changes in the prefrontal cortex. The low activity of the cortex leads to more impulsivity which is a common BPD symptom.

The connectivity between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex also seems to be disrupted in someone with BPD. The studies conclude that someone with this disorder has excessive amygdala activity to negative emotions and a reduced prefrontal cortex regulation.

It does not mean that you either have to experience childhood trauma or are genetically determined to have BPD. The combination of the two is usually the case for someone to develop a borderline personality disorder.


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